Aberlour 16 Year Old
Ahhhh, my first love………………..
I’m not sure exactly when I started “collecting” Scotch, or even the first one I bought, but I do remember which one I fell in love with first. It was an Aberlour 10-year old, that is no longer available here in the States (I’ve managed to squirrel away 3 bottles), which I still consider among my favorite whiskies. So I thought I would offer you a review of its older sibling, the 16-year old. Aberlour is one of those distilleries that doesn’t make a lot of different expressions or shake things up in their offerings like a Glenmorangie does, with what seems like a different flavor or expression every other month or so. Don’t get me wrong, I like having choices, but I think there is a lot to be said about restraint. Glenmorangie makes fine whiskey and I’m sure they have a handle on their many offerings, but as a craftsman myself, I like the fact that Aberlour takes a handful of whiskies and does each one of them very well, as opposed to trying to cover every niche in the marketplace and being everything to everybody. So let me offer you an unbiased opinion of my first love in scotch whiskey.
The first thing that you get on the nose from this whiskey is a full, very rich and complex character without anything else coming to the surface, which is a good start; and I could stop here, but after a minute or two, the nose reveals stone fruit, cinnamon, and toasted nuts. This whiskey has been matured in two different cask types, which simply means after distillation, it started out in one type of wood and finished in another. In this case, the wood used was bourbon barrels first, then finished in sherry cask. The finish on the nose is sweet and long, which is a direct reflection of its marriage with the sherry and bourbon wood, without detecting one or the other individually – a classic example of the sum of the parts are better than either individually.
The mouth feel on this whiskey is very close to what you first take in on the nose; it hides very little. This is a sophisticated and well-balanced whiskey, which should come as no surprise since it’s been in two different barrels for 16 years in total. I’ve have had other double-wood and even triple-wood matured whiskies before, and it doesn’t always work. This is an example of it working very well. Once it’s settled down a bit, the subtle notes come through, and it becomes even better. The toasted nuts rise to the surface, as does a hint of citrus that was absent on the nose, with a trace of fruit on the end. This whiskey has a lot going on and maybe even too much to describe in one sitting, which is a good thing (Pappy Van Winkle 20 Bourbon comes to mind). I am sure that if I sat down a week from now and revisited this whiskey, I would find more good things to say. I will leave you with this thought: This whiskey drinks like a bottle that costs twice as much; it is quite simply one of the best Scotch whiskey values out there in my humble opinion (Talisker 18 yo is a close second), and I’m thankful that it is (but don’t get me wrong, this would still be a favorite at any price).
Every time I enjoy an Aberlour, it takes me back to when it all started – with me and scotch and how much I enjoy it. If you haven’t had an Aberlour, you should give one a try. I have tried all the expressions that are available here in the U.S., and none of them will disappoint; but the 16 year old is head and shoulders above the rest of them and would be a compliment to any whiskey cabinet..
Distillery: Distillery Bottling
From: Speyside, Scotland
Purchased: Harvard In Aiken, Widely Available